I just thought I'd share a change in direction that my business is taking. This summer has been my first of full-time caking. A bunch of weddings, plus other cakes. It has been lots of hard work and sometimes extremely stressful, including a cake disaster that I haven't had the heart (or time) to post about yet.. I'm still not making any real money, which is disheartening.
Now the summer is winding down and I have a few more bookings but not much, just got back from vacation and was gearing up to start marketing and hustling again (I find this part quite hard..), when at a social gathering I was talking to the principal of the school my daughter is about to start at. She asked me all about my business, my kitchen etc, and then flat out asked me if I would be interested in catering their school lunch programme. I was kinda taken aback, as it's not something I've given much thought, but of course it got me thinking.... The short story is that I have decided to take her up on her offer. I'm putting cakes on the shelf for a while, and although I will miss being creative, for me the pros outweigh the cons:
- I will work (mostly) weekdays and will always be off on kids' vacations (I have three who have been pretty neglected this summer)
- Steady money (better hourly rate than caking)
- Lower stress
- A bit more social - I will get out and about every day, rather than being by myself in my basement kitchen all day every day
I'm thinking right now that I will continue to do cakes here and there to keep my old customers happy, plus the cookies I do for a lady I really like.
Of course I will not drop off CC as I love it here! So, there you go - this wouldn't be everyone's choice, but I'm quite excited nevertheless!
Edited to add: a little more info - the school is a very small private school and I will be catering up to 100 lunches a day, all pre-ordered, one choice, no dessert (except if I choose to institute 'treat Fridays' whereby they pay extra for a cupcake or cookie). I will prepare the food in my commercial home kitchen, transport, serve, clean up, come home, have a cup of tea!
Sounds like quite a change. Everyone has to find where they belong and feel comfortable. That place is different for everyone. I hope you have found your fit. Best of luck.
Well, I have to say congratulations!
It seems, to meat least, from the "sound" and "feel" of your post that you are more than okay with this recent turn of events. Lots of positives!
Best wishes in your new (ad)venture!
Sounds great !!!
Have fun and enjoy
Congratulations!! I think you made the right decision for yourself and your family. You can always make cake on the weekends if you miss the creativity side of it. Good luck with everything
By the sound of your post, this is the direction you need to go right now. Good luck in your new venture - you will do fine, and enjoy the time with your kids!
I hope this works out for you!
Thanks! I appreciate the positive vibes. I'll let you know how things go.
...And if anyone has fantastic, tasty, economical one-pot type recipes to feed a crowd, I would LOVE to hear from you
Oh - I could so do what you have decided to do! That sounds like a dream job to me too!
Plus is does leave you the flexibility to make and create cakes as you want to.
Recipes - of course your Canada and I'm the bootheel of Missouri - but the first things that popped in my mind are:
Chicken & Dumplings
and of course the regular Chili and soup recipes too.
Good luck and please keep us updated on your progress and success!
When I was in school, I bought lunch on chicken nugget days, pizza days, and taco days. Those were the best.
You could also do meatball subs. Frozen meatballs simmered in tomato sauce, served on sub roll, sprinkled with cheese. Actually, maybe meatballs are too messy for kids. In any event, things with gravy sauces never went over well at my school.
Another meal choice that went over well at our school was breakfast for lunch. They made either pancakes or french toast, fresh fruit, and sausage links. Hubby always packed his lunch growing up but always bought his lunch when this was on the menu
What ages will you be cooking for? Elementary, Junior High, High School? That will play a big part in what you cook too. If you let us know the age range I (and I'm sure others) could give you more ideas that would better suit your and the kids' needs.
Best of luck in your new venture! It sounds exciting! A lot of hard work, but well worth it
What a great opportunity!
I'd be excited about developing healthier options that kids will still eat. (Tough sell, I know.)
Did you see the Jamie Oliver show where he tried to change the school lunches in a town? I also think about Jessica Seinfeld's cookbook which sneaks in vegetables and fruits.
Best of luck to you!
Congratulations on your new adventure!
Congrats to you! This sounds exciting to me and I am thrilled for you.
Enjoy your new adventure.
My daughter went to a small private school too and I wanted to do something similar to what you're doing. I wanted to have a home-ec class in the mornings and they would help prepare their own food but I wasn't able to get it passed from our county as we couldn't afford a commercial kitchen there.
Check out this website for recipes: http://lotsofinfo.tripod.com/index.html
Congrats on your new adventure!
Good luck. My kids attend a small private school where they pay for a daily catered lunch. It is very fresh and healthy and I don't mind paying for it.
I will prepare the food in my commercial home kitchen, transport, serve, clean up, come home, have a cup of tea!
Sounds like a lot of work! Will you have help (at least with transporting, lifting, and the stairs)? It certainly would be easier if you were allowed to use their kitchen.
Do they have a backup plan for emergencies if you (or your possible assistant) can't get there if something unforseen happens, so the kids will still get to eat?
Good luck to you and I hope everything works out.
I also borrowed these books from the library during the moment I was crazy enough to consider catering my daughter's wedding:
Fearless Cooking for Crowds
The Church Kitchen
The Tasting Table
Have you ever done catering before? Do you have to follow the Federal guidelines for nutrition?
Best of luck!
Thanks again! Yes, I have looked at that site, plus several others - there's really a wealth of resources on-line. I would like the book 'Food for Fifty' but it's quite expensive, so I will save up for that! I will look up the other books mentioned - thanks for the pointers.
I'll be on my own, and I'm expecting it to be hard work. The school is very forgiving, so if I break my leg my mum or my husband can heat up hot-dogs. There are no restrictions with regard to what I make, but I will be aiming to provide nutritious meals, without turning the kids off - kinda tricky tightrope to walk! There will be only one meal option each day - lots of soups, stews and casseroles, plus some more interesting dishes. They like it quick and easy to serve and eat. I would LOVE to do a Jamie Oliver, although I think most of the kids probably eat reasonably well at home anyway...
The school year will be broken into 4 week blocks and I will make the same meal on a particular day for that 4 weeks, so maybe chilli and rice on Mondays, vegetable soup on Tuesdays.. and so on. It seems a bit dull to me but that's the way they like it. They don't really seem to care what I make and she actually encouraged me to have an 'easy' day each week, when I will order in either pizza or sub sandwiches etc.
I'm feeling even more positive about this after my meeting this evening with an indecisive bride who drove me crazy 'if'ing and 'but'ing.
I just have to chime in and say your cakes are very cute and the talent is undeniable-do you mind if I ask why caking wasn't working out? I'm about to branch out and am a little concerned about business as well.
I am a school cook. We are on the federal program so must follow their rules, but we are a private school so we have a little room to be creative. Do they use throw away or use reusable dishes? Makes a big difference in cleanup. The kids love salads and fresh fruit, but keep serving size in mind so there is not so much waste. Macaroni and cheese is very popular and a easy serve. I can give you some ideas if you are interested.
The school year will be broken into 4 week blocks and I will make the same meal on a particular day for that 4 weeks, so maybe chilli and rice on Mondays, vegetable soup on Tuesdays.. and so on. It seems a bit dull to me but that's the way they like it.
Exciting! I can see the convenience to the parents for the 4 week blocks on the menu so they can choose to pack a lunch if their child doesn't care for chili and rice Mondays for example. You're lucky to have family available if/when needed. Best of luck!
This is a nice blog from Malawry on cooking for a sorority. Perhaps it will bring up some things you haven't thought about.
I wish you luck with your new venture. You are a talented caker and I hope that some day, you will be able to get back to it. It would be a shame for that talent to go to waste.
That being said, you are doing it for the right reasons.
You will never regret spending too much time with your children.
Sometimes the good Lord plops things down into our laps and that's exactly where we're supposed to be, and what we are supposed to be doing.
Good Luck to you!